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Choosing Yarn Colours Online

June 23, 2022 4 min read 2 Comments

If there is one thing that can make my day, it's getting to visit a yarn store. There's something about the atmosphere, seeing yarns that I love and discovering new ones. Getting to squish those skeins, and see all the colours in real life, there is nothing better!

Unfortunately though, getting to visit yarn shops we love and seeing all that woolly goodness in real life isn't always possible. There may not be a stockist close by for the yarn you're looking at, you may not be able to physically get to a yarn shop very often, or in the case of the last few years with lockdowns, bricks and mortar shops have had to close and move their business online.

I actually find shopping for yarn online really helpful. As much as I love visiting my LYS in person, I have a tendency to get a little overwhelmed and indecisive if I have a specific project in mind. If I'm looking for a yarn that is different to the suggested one in the pattern, there are a lot of factors that I need to consider; the weight, the fibre, the yardage, etc*. Being able to sit at my laptop and carefully look that the options makes it much easier for me, but there is one thing that is just easier to choose in real life; the colours.

*If substituting yarn is something you struggle with, check out our blog post on that right here!

Choosing colours online can sometimes be tricky, and there's nothing worse than making a purchase, waiting patiently (or impatiently if you're me!) for it to arrive, only to unwrap it and find the colour wasn't what you were expecting or wanting at all. 

The safest thing to do would be to try to order a shade card, but unfortunately not all yarn producers offer these (they can be extremely time-consuming and costly to make!), so for this post, we're going to stick with digital solutions only!

While we and our yarn partners take great care to represent the colours of our yarns as true to life as possible, there are always going to be factors that affect them. Appearances differ from monitor to monitor, but luckily there are a few things you can do to make shopping colours online a little more predictable. Let's check them out!

Look on different devices

If you are looking at yarns on your phone before you place that order check out the same webpage on another device if you can. This way you can compare the two and see how they are looking. Is one looking quite different to the other? This means you probably don't have a clear idea of the actual colour and it may be worth doing a little more digging before deciding to purchase.

Adjust your settings

Make sure the brightness on your screen is turned up, and be sure you are not in 'Night Mode'. This adds a yellow tone and reduces the blue light that researchers are saying affects sleep, which is great, except it's messing up choosing your yarn colours!

If possible, adjust your settings to 'True Tone'. On Apple products, this can be done through System Preferences, then click Displays and then check the box for True Tone. For PC users check out this guide to adjusting your screen. 

Check out projects on Ravelry

If Ravelry is accessible to you, there are a few really handy features on there to help with colour choice. Firstly, go to the yarns tab on the Ravelry home page and type in the yarn you are currently looking at. Once on the yarn page, click the colourways tab at the top, find the colour you are looking at and click 'projects'. This will show you all the projects that have been made using your yarn in your chosen colourway, and gives you a much clearer idea of how that colour looks.

From there, if there are two or more colours you are looking at, you can do the following. In your chosen colourway tab, click the pencil icon. Using the drop-down windows, add the other colourways you want to see. If you keep the tab to the left of the colour names at 'or', it will show you all the projects in those colours. If you change it to 'and', it will show you projects that use a combination of those colourways, which is perfect for choosing colours for colourwork projects!

Contact the yarn producer or store

Remember there is always the option of getting in touch with the yarn producer or shop owner for a little more guidance. Here at Making Stories, we are always happy to chat with our flock to help you make the right yarn choice for you, in fact, we encourage it! You can ask more questions about how the colour appears, have us send photos of certain colourways together, or even jump on a quick call to take a look and chat!

Do you have any tips or tricks when it comes to choosing yarn colours online? Let us know in the comments below!

2 Responses

Leanna Stoufer
Leanna Stoufer

June 26, 2022

I love the idea of using different browsers to compare how the colors appear. Actually, I really appreciate all of the tips! I often end up purchasing yarn online, because our local yarn shops lean toward superwash wools and synthetics. Usually, what I receive works, even if it is a little of a surprise, but on a couple of occasions, not so good. I love Making Stories!!


June 25, 2022

I find the Stash photos on Ravelry probably more helpful than the project photos – lots of different people taking closeup photos of the same ball of yarn is somehow a better clue than seeing a lot of diverse projects, many of which will be in more than one colour. It gives an idea how the yarn looks in different lights, too.

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